The English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum at Monsignor Haddad Middle School is designed to help students think critically about literary works and develop strong writing skills with an understanding of language mechanics. Through a rigorous curriculum, our teachers promote literacy through the Wordly Wise vocabulary program, the John Collins Writing Program, and the literature and reading selections that include novels from various genres, poetry, drama, and informational articles. The ELA curriculum plays a strong role in interdisciplinary and incorporates research, study, and public speaking skills.
The sixth-grade grammar curriculum includes a review of basic parts of speech, basic parts of a sentence including subject, predicate, and direct/indirect objects, subject-verb and pronoun-antecedent agreement, varied sentence types and structure, and punctuation. Writing in the sixth grade focuses on the five-paragraph essay, particularly argumentative essays, literary analyses, and creative writing. The students learn to write a claim statement and support their ideas with relevant research and examples. Teachers stress the organization of an essay including topic sentences and transitional expressions between sentences and paragraphs. An interdisciplinary approach is utilized through the literature curriculum, specifically through the novels The Egypt Game and A Long Walk to Water and through essay writing.
The seventh grade Language Arts curriculum continues to develop skills taught in grade six. It focuses on literary analysis, grammar mechanics, vocabulary expansion, and writing skills. While students are introduced to current literature, such as Wonder and I Am Malala (Young Reader’s Edition), classic novels are also incorporated in the seventh grade curriculum, including A Wrinkle in Time andFever 1793. One of the major interdisciplinary units focuses on Fever, as they connect it to what they are learning about our country’s history in Social Studies class and a study of infectious diseases in Science. Along with reviewing the grammar topics covered in grade six, seventh graders also begin to focus more on language mechanics and utilizing a formal tone in their writing. Students continue to work on strengthening their argumentative writing skills through a variety of topics relevant to them. They grow in their ability to make a strong claim statement that is supported by research. Along with this type of writing, grade seven students are also given the opportunity to write creatively through personal narratives, poetry, and literary reflection and analysis.
The eighth-grade curriculum builds on the grammar and writing skills developed in grades six and seven. While the students review the grammar skills taught in previous grades, students also delve into active versus passive voice, complex sentence structure, and the importance of using an objective and formal tone in writing. Students are expected to research controversial topics, form a strong claim statement that includes a counterclaim, and support their claim throughout their essays with relevant information and examples. Like grades six and seven, the eighth-grade writes across the curriculum and contributes to the interdisciplinary units through novels such as Rocket Boys, Ashes of Roses, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Night.
Monsignor Haddad Middle School of utilizes the John Collins Writing Program, which has been implemented across the curriculum. The Collins Writing Program is designed to improve students' thinking and writing skills simultaneously. It is based on three essential principles:
- Thinking and writing skills develop with frequent, meaningful practice.
- Most students develop writing and thinking skills incrementally through a variety of informal and formal writing experiences.
- Each of the Five Types of Writing serves a distinct instructional purpose that is easily adapted to student needs and differences between subject areas.
The Collins Writing Program offers teachers the Five Types of Writing assignments which develop students' essential writing and thinking skills in the context of their everyday classroom learning. The Five Types of Writing framework can be used strategically with all kinds of writing experiences whether they be:
- informal and routine, or more formal
- short or long
- research-based or experienced-based
- critical or creative
- informative, argumentative, or narrative
As part of the curriculum at Monsignor Haddad Middle School, each student is required to write one essay per month. One goal of the program is to ensure that all writing takes place in school, as a means of having each student take ownership over their writing. These essays are typically completed during the designated writing lab period, however, students may be required to revise and edit their work at home.
The sixth grade Language Arts curriculum emphasizes basic writing skills and introduces students to the five paragraph essay. In seventh grade, students expand on the five paragraph essay, as well as writing expository, persuasive, and descriptive essays. In grade eight, students continue with the five paragraph essay, adding counterclaim argument writing to their repertoire.
Monsignor Haddad Middle School uses Office 365, and each student is given a username and password to log into the portal. This allows them the opportunity to access their writing both at school and at home.